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Aurora Institute

How Do We Ensure Equity and Prevent Tracking: Holding All Students to the Same High Standards and Expectations

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Commit to Equity

Susan Patrick
Susan Patrick

To ensure equity in new learning models that are competency-based, holding all students to the same high academic standards is critical.

Giving students choices and agency on how, when, where they learn is key – so that students have access to online resources, tools, digital content, online courses and modules with robust feedback loops to help them learn any time and everywhere.

Standards, world-class knowledge, and skills are critical as the floor (not the ceiling) of expectations for each and every student.  From the report, Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency Education: “Standards set the benchmark foundation for student success. We must ensure robust competencies and high standards for all students.

“In a globally competitive economy, this is a critical accomplishment to make sure our students are learning at high levels to prepare them for success. We must continue to raise student learning expectations and set academic standards for our students to be successful, as the global society demands higher levels of problem-solving skills and deeper levels of learning. It is important that standards are held to high and rigorous levels for all students to succeed and ensure equity.”

Four keys to high standards:

  • Include academic and efficacy (habits, 21st century skills) standards;
  • Structure learning objectives so that they are explicit and measurable;
  • Align with standards benchmarked for college readiness and success after high school, such as Common Core State Standards, college entrance requirements, or globally benchmarked standards;
  • Outcomes include understanding and application of knowledge, skills, and dispositions through demonstration of deeper learning and evidence toward college and career-ready, world-class standards.

Giving teachers powerful tools for personalizing learning is key. Having students demonstrate their learning in powerful ways on a solid foundation of high standards will prepare them for success in both college and careers, by demonstrating competency and performance on learning topics where they can fully engage and take ownership of their own learning with full support.